Pennsylvanias flunk zoning test
by Albert Paschall
As local governments get ready to re-convene after summer recess its time for
you to test your local Zoning skills.
The Zoning Quotient Test isnít for NIMBYS (Not-in-my-back-yarders).
Those are the people who hold a season ticket for every meeting local
government holds to complain about everything under and including the Sun.
Itís not fair for NIMTOOS (Not-in-my-term-of-office) to take it either.
If you pass the test youíll know who those people are in your
really three simple questions with multiple guess answers, so grab your pen and
give it a try!
The twenty-acre bucolic woods behind your home was zoned HI five years ago when
you moved into the township.
The real estate agent thought this meant Heavenly Island of open space.
Now you find that a 100,000 square foot compost processing plant will be
built there. To
stop it you should:
Write a protest letter to President Clinton
Sue the real estate agent
Circulate a petition protesting the development and present it to the
Board of Supervisors
Donít bother, stay at home the night of the Supervisors meeting
If you answered A or B, then your correct answer is D.
You didnít bother checking for yourself before you bought the house now
youíd better like the smell of compost.
Answer C might get you some free air-freshener from whoever is building
the factory, so itís worth a try!
At the end of the lovely cul-de-sac that your split-level sits on is a
nice 3-acre tract where the kids have played for years.
A homebuilder has purchased it because it has R-3 zoning that you always
thought meant Recreational Three Acres.
Now you find that 24 townhouses will go on the land and to stop it you
Write a protest letter to Governor Ridge
Go to the township meeting and demand that the township seize the ground
Organize the neighborhood to meet with the homebuilder
Donít bother stay at home the night of the township meeting.
again if A or B were your choice then the correct answer for you is D.
Answer C might convince the developer to build fewer homes, maybe
preserve an area for a playground or build homes in character with the
youíd probably be better off starting a welcome wagon and make a few bucks off
your new neighbors.
The last farmer in your township has finally surrendered to the
horrendous economic pressures that family farms face in the state.
A developer had bought the 125 acres that were zoned C-1 thirty-years
thought C-1 meant Cows-Per-Acre and always took the farm for granted only to
find that the farm is scheduled to become a factory outlet mall operating 24
hours a day. To
stop it you should:
Write a nasty anonymous letter alleging that the developer bribed the
elected officials in your township and stick it on car windshields in the middle
of the night
Go to the Township meeting and tell the Supervisors you wonít pay their
salaries any more
Put together a community group to attempt to persuade the developer to
adopt other uses
Donít bother stay at home the night of the Supervisors meeting
Once again if you are an A or B then take D.
If you answered A call your psychiatrist you have a problem.
But stay at home especially if you answered B.
Most of the elected that govern townships make about $1 an hour for all
the time they put in.
Answer B is also particularly risky because the Supervisors may tell you
where to put the job and itís a painful place.
Worse yet, you might get elected and have to put up with people like you.
checked one A or one B then you flunked.
Youíve scored D for dumb because youíve never taken the time to learn
about the government of your community.
Municipal governments in Pennsylvania that are managed by largely honest
people who for the most part volunteer their time.
They are governments that have the responsibility of managing a community
based land use and zoning system that works well because of that local
itís a system that under assault as Harrisburg and Washington get ready to
pour huge sums into undermining Pennsylvaniaís municipal planning code.
If you are
a D you should continue to sit on the sidelines until the compost plant,
townhouses or factory outlet mall comes to your back yard and then youíll meet
your municipal government.
But by then the Feds or the State may have taken over and youíll
After that youíll get plenty of answers you wonít like.
Paschall is senior commentator for the Lincoln Institute, a non-profit
educational foundation in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. ”
Calvin-Graham Enterprises 1999. www.lincolninstitute.org
|"Some days" © Calvin-Graham Enterprises, distributed at no charge to selected newspapers in the the Commonwealth Of Pennsylvania by the Lincoln Institute of Public Opinion Research, Inc., 453 Springlake Road Harrisburg, Pennsylvania 17112. Receipt of distribution is permission to publish as bylined op-ed only. Not available as letter to the editor. The Lincoln Institute is a non-profit, non-partisan educational foundation dedicated to promoting the ideals of free market economics and individual liberty through the conduct of public opinion research. The opinions expressed in "Some Days" do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the institute its officers or directors.|